Wonder Lab / Exercise 3: Me, Designer

I first became interested in Design my junior year in high school. I liked art and math, but didn’t want to do either one as its own field, and I didn’t want to be an engineer. I was always making things — whether improving furniture, altering my clothes, redoing my room, making my prom dress, building my bed, etc. It was all about altering or creating something to fit my exact needs and desires.

At this time, though, I thought design was mostly about making things pretty — about making nice, ergonomic products that people wanted to own and use. It was about a better, desirable, more aesthetic future. I couldn’t tell you why certain objects were nicer, or why they were better to use, I just had a sense that they were.

Sophomore year is when I realized that I hated making pretty things. It was satisfying to make them and to design them, but Industrial Design seemed like a very superfluous and unimportant contribution. It made me almost not want to be a designer. As our projects started expanding, however, I began seeing Design differently. I went from designing well composed artifacts, to designing artifacts with purpose. It became about problem solving rather than designing.

I also started to notice what it was I liked most about this problem solving — it was about the interactions people had with the things I was making. This sounds unoriginal “Design is to create a product that inspires interaction.” Every kind of design, in my opinion, is interaction design. No matter the design medium, Design only serves its purpose if there is someone interacting with what has been designed. I noticed that the easier I made it for my products or models to demonstrate interaction or to allow people who came to our design shows to physically interact with my objects — to touch them and perhaps use them — the better the response. If it wasn’t possible for people to understand the interaction through touch, it became important to explain and demonstrate the contextual relevance through some other medium.

We do not design isolated experiences. We do not design stand alone products and objects. We design objects for the user and the system that is his or her vastly diverse, complicated, and active life.

Each artifact has a role in the greater narrative of our lives, and it is Design’s role to create artifacts that have meaning in the lives of its users — to somehow make a difference, and hopefully make lives better.

Design is to create a product that inspires interaction.
Design is to encourage an interaction that produces a meaningful experience.

Design is not isolated.
Design is empathetic.
Design is curating interaction.

If I were to design something right now it would be a product that allows someone to experience something they haven’t before, or something that rids them of a burden.

5 keywords I use to describe my design ethos:
Honest, well crafted, accessible, straightforward, utility

What do you value in the designed world?
I value products that are reliable and honest. 
I value self expression and choice.
I value design’s ability to encourage growth and new, more fulfilling experiences.

What are your concerns as a designer? Where are you headed?

Please see next article for more of my thoughts related to myself as a designer

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